Exploring the Lesser known Shimla!

13th Jul 2018

Shimla Unravelled

Photo of Exploring the Lesser known Shimla! by Swati Verma

Badly need a break from the excruciating traffic jams and hustle bustle of Delhi life? The lesser known Shimla & Beyond is where you need to head to!

Mayank and I decided to spend our 3 day long weekend at Shimla, starting off on a Friday, at 4:30 am in our car. My hubby isn't a morning person. But for the hills, he woke up way before the alarm. We were both super excited for the 359 km long road journey that we had set off to. It showed 8 hours on Google Maps. In just an hour we arrived at Amrik Sukhdev at Murthal, the most sought after place for Punjabi food. After having our heart full of the super delicious Parathas with white butter, we hopped back into our car. By 9:00 am we had reached Panchkula and could see light silhouette of the hills at the horizon. That's when the excitement kicked in again!

We started the serpentine climb on NH 5. As soon as we saw the first sign board for Shimla it started to rain as heavily as ever, giving us goosebumps. There was heavy traffic on the way for both uphill and down hill, yet it was not bothering us as we were soaked into the sight of the green hills and clouds!

We took a pit-stop at Dharampur at around 1:30 pm at a small restaurant which had a nice long balcony facing the valley. We sat there holding our coffee mugs, mystified at the landscape which looked like a green carpet covering the hills. At some places the hills were dark; hidden under the clouds and at some places they flaunted their golden streaks caused by the peeping sunlight. And this was just at an altitude of 74m and we just couldn't wait to see what awaited us at a further altitude of 2270m where Shimla was!

View at Dharampur

Photo of Dharampur, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swati Verma
Photo of Dharampur, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swati Verma
Day 1

Further ahead, we crossed Shoghi, a small village near Solan and saw the grand "Aamod" Resort and immediately decided to take a break. Aamod had a nice parking at the base and took a short upward walk upto the restaurant area through the dense forest. The ambiance was very fresh and green. It was an open restaurant with wooden hut type roof and monkeys playing around the area jumping from trees to the roof. It was like we were sitting in the middle of the forest in the arms of nature. We ordered for Pizza and decided to use the time it would take to arrive to see the cottages and facilities available in the resort. We went further uphill to checkout the rooms, spa area, reception and activities spot. This made us even more hungry and eager to enjoy the Pizza, which was the best we had ever had. We noticed a brand of locally made and packed baked apple chips at the counter of Amod. They had a hole in the center like polo and were so delicious that we declared them to be undoubtedly the best chips and bought more of them for friends and family.

Shimla was just 17 km away from Shoghi. We resumed our uphill drive and saw the Shimla foothills covered with restaurants and hotels realizing how crowded the place had become.

The meticulous planner that my husband is, he had booked a home stay in Kelston- Dhanlakshmi Apartments. Kelston is the highest point and most posh residential locality of Shimla, located beyond the mall road, at a walk-able distance of 2 kms towards the higher altitudes. We crossed the Mall Road and at the round about saw several steep roads going uphill towards Kelston. We called up the owner of Dhanlakshmi apartments asking for directions and to our surprise he sent his car with a driver to guide us through the confusing multiple lanes going towards the home stay. We finally reached our place in the evening at 5:00 pm. It was a nice home made specifically for stay purpose with a lobby and 4 rooms facing each other. The room also had a balcony which was directly facing the cloud covered green valley. The facilities were good and we quickly freshened up and set out explore the Hills! We walked down towards the Mall Road, experiencing the twists and turns of of the road and observing the locals, the monkeys, the fauna and flora of the forest. We saw the Ridge, the Church and the markets all along the mall road. Back into the room balcony, we did star gazing as the sky was pitch dark. We could spot Mars, Orion and Gemini easily. For the rest of the constellations, we took the help of Star locater apps on play store, which was a pretty cool and enjoyable activity!

We woke up at 6 am next day to a lovely weather and valley view. We walked down on the unknown roads, taking in the fresh air while observing the plant leaf patterns and fruits grown on the lush green trees. The walk in the woods was so picturesque! The short half n hour walk was tiring yet so refreshing! We saw cute pahadi kids going to school. After reaching the Mall Road, we had our heart-full of Maggi & Tea. For all the Burger, Tikki and Sandwich lovers out there- Sharma's shop is a must try!

Woods at Kelsten

Photo of Kelston, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swati Verma
Day 2

We then took a cab to Mashobra. We stopped by to take a look at the apple plantations on the way. The trees were laden with fresh apples- both green and red. Many of them had fallen on the ground. It was a very beautiful sight! The area was developed with colorful flower plantations. People came there to click pics with the apple trees in the front and mesmerizing valley in the background. Our next pit stop was the Carignano Nature Park, Mashobra which was under construction. Yet it a was beautiful place to sit and enjoy the nature and flowers of Himachal.

View inside the Nature Park

Photo of Mashobra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swati Verma

Apple laden trees

Photo of Mashobra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swati Verma

Plants in Mashobra

Photo of Mashobra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swati Verma

Further ahead we reached Naldhera. It was a spot where for 800/- bucks they took you on a 5km trek on horses, but we wanted to explore the terrain on foot. So we ventured all by ourselves, following the markings of the horse shoes on the hills. The track was very narrow and covered with horse shit. We found dry patches to keep our foot on and went ahead with lot of enthusiasm. The sight was beyond beautiful! There was also a vast golf course and we were trekking along its boundaries. It was the most hilly golf course we had ever seen. The Naldhera trek was the most amazing part of the stay at Shimla.

Naldhera Trek

Photo of Naldehra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swati Verma

Views along Naldhera

Photo of Naldehra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swati Verma

Golf Course along Naldhera Trek

Photo of Naldehra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Swati Verma

The food experience at Shimla was superb everywhere. We headed back to our home stay and once again enjoyed the food at the Mall Road. We started our backward journey on Sunday morning, taking pitstops and breaks. Bidding farewell to the hills and the valley, only to return again, but next time at higher altitudes.

Biryani by the Hills

Photo of Exploring the Lesser known Shimla! by Swati Verma
Photo of Exploring the Lesser known Shimla! by Swati Verma